Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Auction House - cows, coins and crap

Carleton County Co-Op Auction!
We were up top in the back behind the cows butt.

The thought of taking our billy goat Jack to auction was a little upsetting to me. I tried to sell him online and although there was some interest, when I was completely honest, the deals never went through. I could not in good conscience neglect to tell a potential buyer who lived an hour and a half away that he stank worse than my toilet and was getting violent  with all my livestock. It just didn't feel right to withhold those details. Alas, my honesty created a situation where I had no other choice BUT to take Jack to the Florenceville-Bristol Carleton County Co-op Auction house an hour and a half away. Taking him for sale was a risk since I was certain to spend the $5 to the auction house, $10-20 for lunch and coffee and at least $45 in diesel to get 'er done. That meant Jack had to get me at least $60 to barely break even. Definitely a dicey deal!

My sweet boy Luki!
So early Monday morning, after the kids left for school, Len and I came up with a plan to entice Jack into the back of old Buddy, our trusty truck. We decided to make a ramp into the truck, I would hold a bucket of feed (which we were pretty confident our little piggy would go for) and Len would put a rope around his neck in case he fled. First however, I had to lead Freya into the barn with some feed so she would stay out of the way and then work on getting Jack. Surprisingly with the exception of Luki making a break for it, all went well. Jack was indeed a predictable horny goat and Luki adores me so I was able to get him back into the pasture without too much trouble. 

We made the drive to Florenceville, checking every so often to ensure that Jack was safely riding in the canopy enclosed truck bed. He never fought it, brayed, kicked or bothered us at all, which was very surprising. He did stay standing and close to our window, periodically looking at us longingly like he knew this may be his last ride. I felt bad for him. Who knows, he could become a pet (not likely), he could be bought to breed (marginally possible) or he could become a welcome entree at the local Greek restaurant (most likely.) I didn't want to see him become a shish kebab but what choice did we have? He was attacking everyone and everything... 

My Sunflowers FINALLY bloomed!
Comes with bees!
Without getting very lost we arrived at the auction house. Not knowing the process I saw a bunch of farmers (regulars out for their Monday fun) hanging about to see what animals were coming in and possibly buying them before they ever hit the auction block. I pulled up and sweetly said, "HI! Can you please tell me where I register my goat for today's auction?" The 300 lb bearded pot bellied farmer   with his dirty old ball cap said, "Ya, it had to be here las' Wednesday for today's auction." My face fell! I had driven an hour and a half, spent my last $40 on fuel and had to take Jack home again! Seeing my distress, the other fella's laughed and said, "Don't listen to Dan, he's just messin' with ya! Go see Margie over at that thar door and she'll take him in for ya." My relieved sigh and laugh made them all grin and Len and I took Jack on over. 

A nice young boy of about 17 with his overalls and t-shirt and a mouth full of metal helped us get Jack out. He said, "h'yuk, we can hep ya's out. This har goat should sell jes' fan! He's nace." And off Jack went to join the other animals in wait for the big event. As we waved goodbye for the last time, we walked on through to check out the auction house. This was definitely going to be an interesting day! (Check out the first picture of the auction barn to get an idea of the layout.) There were items for auction from the Co-op, likely last year's old stock and another little pygmy billy goat in a cage. 

Cabbage ready to harvest.
The bug holes are free!
We had about an hour and half until the auctioneer came out to go through the days items so off we went to Timmy's for some coffee and breakfast and then wandered around to check out the Co-op grocery store, gas station and feed store. Then we headed back to the barn. By this time many more farmer's had been in to drop off livestock and the place was beginning to get crowded. We walked in and Len offered to buy me a hot dog or piece of pie. As enticing as it was to eat piece of pie that was sitting open, uncovered on a shelf in a barn, I decided to pass on that culinary delight and simply drink the water in my purse.

My purple broccoli.
All my plants have bug bites.
We started out sitting in the bleachers about half way up one side and then decided to sit right up top in the back since we weren't buying anyway, just hoping for enough to cover our day from the sale of our goat. We sat and people watched for awhile and enjoyed the true rural country feeling that I don't think has probably changed much over the last 50 years since the place opened. Sure, more people were driving in new trucks, not horse and wagons, but beyond that, not much different. We thought there were a lot of kids there for a Monday and realized we were in potato country, namely the world head quarters for the McCain's factories and this was the last ever, potato break for schools. Yes, in rural New Brunswick, farmers still counted on seasonal hired hands to come and work for those few weeks of harvest in September and in this way lots of kids could earn their own money for school clothes and needs. This was the last year for this though, due to poor harvests and increased technology and other financial factors, schools would no longer have a potato break after Sept. 2011. 

I was thoroughly enjoying myself and feeling quite farmy! I smiled at Len and told him, that even though it smelled like a barn, it was fun! He reminded me it WAS a barn. One old guy, maybe somewhere between 65-85, kind of hard to tell, had to get up the bleachers to sit with his friend. The old guy couldn't have been any taller than Jessica, was grizzled and gnarled up and literally had to crawl up the bleachers on his hands and knees and then sat down and was ready to take on the day! As we waited we listened to stories of who bagged a moose over the weekend - the moose hunt is 3 days in the last weeks of September and had just ended. We watched old men compare the harvest, size up the livestock and generally felt like this was where REAL farming was at. 

As the auction started and things quieted down, we were able to distinguish who the big time buyers and sellers were. Who was there just to observe and who wasn't sure what they would do today. Clearly for some people, living out in the country, this was their weekly entertainment. There were about 25 items to sell off before we got to livestock and I carefully struggled to sit absolutely still, my hands under my bum, my eyes motionless and in no way making a move that might be interpreted as a bid. I had NO money today and needed to sell my goat just to get home again. 

Real chocolate chip cookies
My husband however, had other motives which I discovered as he sat and started to join in on a bid that was on the floor. Len was good at it, subtle, experienced looking and clearly knew what he was doing. Of course, I couldn't figure out why he was bothering to bid on a case of gallon jugs of Fleecy that we couldn't even use since it was not organic or biodegradable. I tried to quietly ask him without throwing off his bid, but when he won the bid and turned to smile at me on his success, his smile turned to a frown, when I asked, "Why'd you buy a case of Fleecy? We don't need non-organic fabric softener." He said, "What? I thought I bought that white garden hose?" Nope! ha ha, well, I am still laughing at him over that one! He was subsequently successful on his bid for the hose!

My New Brunswick Biscuits
Finally, Jack came up on the block. I was REALLY nervous now because the pygmy goat only went for $20 while his cage went for $30... this did not leave me much hope on money for Jack. The auctioneer, in his sing song voice started Jack at $30 and all hope fell at that moment as I pictured him going for $10 ... Much to my amazement his price immediately shot up to $70 and he was sold! $70! To BillyBob in the corner! Wow! YAY! I broke even on my day! 

We remained for the rest of the auction because it was fun and kind of exciting at times. I watched a farmer in his dandy clothes - fresh new shirt and white straw boater - bid on almost every cow and bull that came through. My guess is he owns a butcher shop. The auctioneer would announce the bid number, the weight of the animal and then start the bidding at a per pound rate. The lowest we saw that day went for about .45 cents a pound and the highest for about $1.25 lb. The smallest animal in the beef category was about 330 lbs and the largest was over 1500 lbs. Let me tell you, a 1500 lb bull that does not want to be in a small area, is not a happy animal. The last few animals had had enough. They had been waiting all day and were the last on the auction block. Truly, the crap began to fly. A few cows let their bowels loose and then, when a bull came out and sprayed diarrhea, I understood why most people sat high up. One fellow was definitely going to have to rinse his boots and change his trousers from the spray when he got home. Love the kids though, they just all laughed and knew they had something to tell at school next week when the potato break ended!

Cows, coins and crap, yup, that 'bout covers the auction! Y'all come back now, y'hear? 
Apple Pie from our Bear's tree
Blueberry Pie
Below, just a few pictures of things I have been doing out here on the farm!

Wild Cranberry Jelly
Mint Jelly from My Mint

Green Tomato Salsa

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